Aside from advocating for a national individual health insurance mandate, Todd Zwillich notes that in January 2008, Newt Gingrich also called for mandatory physical education classes as a way to combat obesity. “I believe we ought to have mandatory, K through 12, five-day-a-week physical education,” Gingrich said, building on an idea he introduced in 2006′s Saving Lives & Saving Money. From page 155:
Demand that physical education be part of the school curriculum…The only place many kids can get supervised daily activity is in school. Physical education in schools is done under a federally mandated guideline. Although it states that schools are to provide physical education classes three to four times per week, the only state holding to this guideline is the state of Illinois. Demand it.
Interestingly, conservatives have repeatedly misrepresented First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! obesity prevention campaign as a government assault on personal freedoms and liberties, when in reality that program only seeks to tackle the obesity epidemic through a mix of private and public incentives. Gingrich’s solution sounds calls for far more dictatorial measures.
Gingrich also proposed getting tough on soft drink companies that peddle sugar to kids, writing, “The soft drink companies should be challenged to produce healthy alternatives or to expect to have reduced access to young people as a market.”